Nest eggs: Ice Hawks on a broken record
Rochester Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis has sounded a bit like a broken record over the past month.
Game in and game out, Fatis has harped on his Ice Hawks for their lack of finishing ability in the first period.
That record played again last weekend as the Ice Hawks suffered two more losses, and their losing streak is now at five games (0-4-0-1)
"To be honest, we played really well in the first period against the Energy (in an 8-2 loss Friday night)," Fatis said. "We outshot them 21-9 in the first period. It was the exact same thing as our last game against them down here. We outshot them 22-11 in the first period of that game. So in two games, in the first period, we've outshot them 43-20, and we only have one goal to show for it.
"I know it's the same thing we've talked about over and over. But we're just not finishing those first-period chances. That's huge."
The Ice Hawks lost again Saturday, falling 5-4 to the last-place Minnesota Owls. Still, Fatis felt his team improved.
"The thing I saw, especially Friday, was that the guys didn't trust the system and they started doing some individual things to make up for what they thought wasn't working with the systems," Fatis said. "That's something we have to fix. They have to trust it and play within the system.
"But Saturday was better. It was kind of the same as the Steele County game from the week before. We are not getting any bounces. We aren't getting any calls. But that stuff happens and you have to overcome it."
Despite the setbacks, Fatis said nobody is hitting the panic button just yet.
"This is a young team, and we said all along we would be doing some rebuilding this season," Fatis said. "I think the hot start masked some of the things we were doing wrong, and now they're catching up to us."
Still, he feels like this team is close to breaking through.
"One of the fans said it best in that we are one bounce here and there away from being 3-2 during this streak," Fatis said. "But we have to create those bounces. There's no two ways about it, you can't rely on luck. There are some things we have to do better in order to win in this league."
The new guy
Last Wednesday, the Ice Hawks traded for Owls forward Dan Trageser. So far, so good.
Trageser played in both games last weekend and had an assist. Fatis said he fits perfectly with what the Ice Hawks are trying to accomplish.
"He's great, and he does everything we want him to do," Fatis said. "He is up and down the ice, he hits, he plays with intensity and an edge. That's exactly what we were looking for."
Fatis said fans shouldn't expect Trageser to be a point-a-game type player, though.
"No, I don't think so," Fatis said. "He's going to score some points because he works so hard. I just really like his game."
The Ice Hawks dealt the Large brothers (Patrick and Austin) to the Owls for Trageser. Fatis said the team didn't like seeing them leave, but it wasn't an unexpected move.
"It went over pretty well," Fatis said. "The Large brothers didn't necessarily ask for the trade, but when we brought it up to them, they were more than happy about it. We never just trade guys. We always talk to them first. They wanted more ice time, and the Owls can give them that."
On paper, it looked like the Rochester goalies struggled last weekend. They allowed a total of 13 goals in two games.
But Fatis said it was more about what was happening in front of them, as opposed to lackluster play from his netminders.
"I was not super pleased with all the goals that went in, but they're doing a decent job, and it's certainly not their fault," Fatis said. "What's funny is there were a lot of tipped pucks by our own team that went in. It's the kind of thing that happens when things aren't going your way. We just need to turn the tide a bit. But I don't think our goalies need to do anything differently. We feel like we're still very solid back there."
During Saturday's home game (7 p.m.) against the Northern Lights, the Ice Hawks are hosting Military Appreciation night. There will be a fund-raiser for Military personnel. And there will be a special "Skate With the Hawks" event prior to the game for the children of military personnel.
"We're trying to do something nice for all of our military fans, so we usually do skate with the Hawks after the game, but for them we're doing it before the game," Fatis said. "We try to honor the military every year because they're an important part of the Ice Hawks family."